Page images

ble him, and divest him from this kind of confidence, will let him fall into a mire of sin, and deny him in the hour of temptation, at the voice of a silly maid. There are two things in which the strength of the Christian lies. (1.) Self-diffidence. (2.) Confidence in the Lord. If these two be maintained, they will make the believer stand, when the darkest shadows of death are round about him. "We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of the Lord." This is just the way and work of faith; it travels between self-emptiness and all fulness, between self-guiltiness and everlasting righteousness, between self-weakness and everlasting strength: hence says David, "I will go in the strength of the Lord, making mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only."

5. Study to get your heart weaned from, and mortified to, the world, and all its fading interests and enjoyments. The world is a dead weight upon the soul, especially in a day of trial, where the love of it has the ascendant and prevalency in the heart; hence, we are told, that Demas forsook Paul, and the profession of Christianity, by having loved this present world: "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." And if the love of the Father be not in us, it is impossible we can stand in a shaking day. There are these things in the world that we should study to be mortified to, in order to our standing in a time of trial:

1st, Our worldly estates and riches. "The love of money is the root of all evil, which, while some have coveted, they have erred from the faith," &c. O what a scandal is it to Christianity, to see men professing Christ and Christianity, so wedded to the world, and the perishing riches of it! In order to our getting it under our feet, let us view it in the light in which God has set it to us in his word; his verdict of things is the truest; and if we believe him, all that is in it is mere "vanity, vanity of vanities," &c. Let us contemplate things above, and look at things not seen, &c. What will it appear when we are a little beyond death?

2dly, Let us study to be mortified to our worldly credit, our name, and reputation in the world. It commonly goes very near us, and it was among the sharpest of trials that the worthies met with, Heb. xi. when they endured "the - trial of cruel mockings." It is no easy thing to proud nature to have our name and reputation torn by reproach, and "cast out as evil :" yet, I say, if we would stand in a day of trial, we must lay our worldly name and credit at the feet of Christ. He was content to have his "name, which is above every name," blackened with reproach for us; he was called a blasphemer, a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sin


ners," an affecter of popularity, yea, a devil: but "he endured the cross, and despised the shame of it." Sirs, let us remember that we are neither to stand or fall according to the world's verdict of us: "It is a small thing for me to be judged of men: he that judgeth me is the Lord." Let us remember, that there is a real glory in bearing reproach for Christ and his cause: Moses "esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt."

3dly, Let us study to be mortified to worldly ease, quiet, and liberty. Paul lays his account with "bonds for the name of Christ." Sirs, what matters it being, like Paul and Silas, shut up in a dungeon for Christ, and under chains, if his presence be with us, as it was with them? &c. A prison has been tenanted by the most eminent of the saints now in glory, Jer. xxxii.; Matth. iv. 12; Acts v. 18. But God loosed his prisoners, and set them free at length. Commonly, when men are cruel, the Lord is kind: he "looks down from heaven, to hear the sighing and groanings of his prisoners," &c. A prison or confinement by men is not hell; men have their prisons, and God has his. We read of those who sinned in the days of Noah, that are now in the prison of hell, 1 Pet. iii. 19; that is a terrible prison indeed, no relief there: little hazard of men's prisons, if that be all the hell we are to endure.

4thly, Let us study to get our affections mortified even to the inordinate love of life. This, indeed, is a hard lecture; yet it is a lecture that we must learn, if we be the followers of Christ, when a day of trial comes. Sirs, if ever you took on with Christ the Captain of salvation, you have laid your lives at his feet, and all the comforts of life to be disposed of by him. Die we must one time or other, and we can never part with it more honourably than in the cause of Christ. Christ parted with his valuable life for us, and shall we spare our poor miserable life for him? Again, think what a life of glory you enter into, when you lay down your life for hist 'cause, &c.

6. In order to our being prepared for encountering the shadows of death, secure these three good things, and there is no fear; a good God, a good cause, and a good conscience:

1st, Secure the presence of a reconciled God in Christ.. It was the faith of this, that made David so bold here in the text: Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 'I will fear no evil, for thou art with me." His promise is sure "1 will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the flames, they shall not kindle upon thee. Let faith fasten

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

on his word, and say, "This God is my God for ever and ever, and he will be my guide even unto death."

2dly, Secure a good cause. It is a miserable heartless thing for a man to suffer as an evil-doer, to suffer as a busy body in other men's matters; but to suffer for Christ, for the doctrine, discipline, worship, and government of his house, to suffer for his members, or for cleaving to the least of his truths, is comfortable and creditable; and we are to "account it all joy when we fall into divers temptations" and trials on this account, even though but the least hoof of divine truth be concerned; for better heaven and earth were unhinged, than one jot or tittle of the truth of God be suffered to fall to the ground.

3dly, Secure a good conscience to bear you company; for this is like a bird in the bosom, that makes the countenance glad, even when storms blow hard from without. "This is our rejoicing, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, and not with fleshly wisdom, we have had our conversation in the world." And in order to your having a good conscience, get it sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb, and keep at the greatest distance from every thing that may defile it, even though it should offend the whole world in so doing.

7. Keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus as our glorious pattern, and see him within the veil, with the spoils of hell in his hand, Heb. xii. 2: "Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, &c. View him as the renowned Captain of salvation, coming from Edom. Eye him,


1st. As our Redeemer that has satisfied justice for us. did Job: "I know that my Redeemer liveth," &c. This put him in case to look death and the grave in the face.

2dly, Eye him as your Leader, and the Captain of salvation made perfect through sufferings. He waded through a sea of blood and wrath, and he is now on the other side, crying, "Fear not; for I was dead, and am alive."

3dly, Eye him as your head of influence, and wait for supplies of grace from him; for he will not be wanting to give out life and strength to his members, as he has service for them.

Lastly, Eye him as a head of government, having all power in heaven and in earth in his hand, for the benefit of his mystical body; for this will make you sing in the midst of tribulation, saying, "The Lord liveth, and blessed be my rock: and let the God of my salvation be exalted." "The Lord shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all genera tions. Selah."



God is gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.— PSAL. XLVII. 5.


THIS psalm seems to have been composed upon the occasion of that great solemnity, of carrying up the ark from the house of Obed-edom to the city of Zion; the history of which we have, 2 Sam. vi. and 1 Chron. xiii. 6. But as Zion was a type of the church, and the ark a type of Christ; so this has plainly a respect to the ascension of Christ to heaven, and, as a consequence and fruit of it, to the spreading and enlargement of his kingdom in all parts and nations of the world.

The psalm begins with an exhortation to praise, (ver. 1:) "O clap your hands, all ye people, shout unto God with the voice of triumph." The party exhorted is, " all ye people ;" not only all the tribes of Israel, but all the ends of the earth, are concerned in this common Saviour and his salvation; and therefore all are exhorted to join in this triumph, of cele brating the glory of our Redeemer. And they are exhorted to clap their hands, and shout with the voice of triumph, like men in a transport that cannot contain themselves. Clapping of the hands, and shouting upon any solemn occasion, is a token of approbation. Every soul that hears of Christ, should approve of the device of Infinite Wisdom through him: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." A token of joy. and pleasure. Christ is the joy and pleasure of his Father; and he is also the joy of all the redeemed, they are just “gladdened with his countenance," as the expression is, Psal. xxi. 6. A token of admiration and wonder. "God manifested in the flesh," is the wonder of angels, and the admi

• The substance of two sermons, preached at the celebration of the Lord's supper at Abernethy, April 28, 1734.

[blocks in formation]

ration of all the saints, both in the church militant and triumphant.

Now follow some considerations to induce and engage all people to praise and gratitude.

1. Our Redeemer is to be praised, because of the awful majesty of God that is in him: "The Lord most high is terrible." But, say you, is this matter of praise? Answ. It is great matter of praise that our Redeemer is none other than the most high God, who strikes terror on the powers of hell; he comes to bruise the head of the serpent, and through death to destroy him that had the power of death; he is terrible to all the wicked enemies of his church and people; for "he cutteth off the spirits of princes, and is terrible to the kings of the earth." Is it not matter of praise to the church, to have this God for our God, for our everlasting friend?

2. He is a sovereign Lord, and his dominion is universal; "he is a great King over all the earth." His kingdom is so extensive, that it reaches from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth, according to the promise made to him by his Father, "I will give him the Heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession."

3. He is to be praised for the honour and victory that he gives to all his ransomed: "He will (ver. 3,) subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet;" that is, through him we shall be conquerors, yea, "more than conquerors;" in him we shall "rule the nations with a rod of iron,” according to what we have, Psal. cxlix.

4. He is to be praised for the pleasant portion and goodly heritage that he bestows upon all his true Israel; ver. 4: "He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved;" that is, he will order every thing in our lot in the world, to his glory and our good; and, which is best of all, he himself will be our portion for ever, when flesh and heart fail; and this is "an inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled, and which fadeth not away."

5. He is to be praised upon the account of his triumphant ascension to heaven in our nature, the views of which just fill the church here with a transport of wonder and praise: ver. 5-7: God is gone up with a shout, &c.

It is the first part of verse 5, that I design to insist upon, God is gone up with a shout. Where notice,

1. The glorious and awful name and character of our Redeemer; he is God; that is, God, not absolutely or essentially considered, for in this respect he cannot properly be said to go up, or come down: but it is God in our nature, in the person of the Son, God manifested in the flesh; that God

« PreviousContinue »